Combine hives or make two queen system
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2015
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    Tuckerton, NJ USA
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    100

    Default Combine hives or make two queen system

    I bought six packages this year hoping to increase honey production. However, they came two weeks late and were mostly dead. I didnít take the proper steps for replacement packages. Now I have a couple of strong hives, a couple of ok hives and a couple of weak. The weak ones are hopeless unless they get some serious help. I was planning on combing the 6 to make 3 strong hives but I couldnít think of what to do with the queens expect kill them.

    I am wondering if it is worth it to set them up in two queen systems. The weakest hives go over the strongest, and the ok hives are combined.

    All the bees are (2) 4 frame boxes, deeps. I would put an empty of comb between the stacked colonies with 2 queen excluders.

    Worth it or should I just combine them?

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Algoma District Northern Ontario, Canada
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    5,611

    Default Re: Combine hives or make two queen system

    I would say "Go for it". I would use my Snelgrove boards since I have them but very simple ones can be made up from inner covers and 2 patches of screen. The box of empty comb and excluders works but creates more empty space and heigth.

    If it does not work out you can still combine later. Makes for an interesting adventure. Keep us posted with a blow by blow!
    Frank

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2018
    Location
    Northern Lower Michigan, USA
    Posts
    1,307

    Default Re: Combine hives or make two queen system

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul_B View Post
    I bought six packages this year hoping to increase honey production. However, they came two weeks late and were mostly dead. I didn’t take the proper steps for replacement packages. Now I have a couple of strong hives, a couple of ok hives and a couple of weak. The weak ones are hopeless unless they get some serious help. I was planning on combing the 6 to make 3 strong hives but I couldn’t think of what to do with the queens expect kill them.

    I am wondering if it is worth it to set them up in two queen systems. The weakest hives go over the strongest, and the ok hives are combined.

    All the bees are (2) 4 frame boxes, deeps. I would put an empty of comb between the stacked colonies with 2 queen excluders.

    Worth it or should I just combine them?
    Hi Paul

    I do not have any 4 frame excluders, if you do great. 4 narrow boxes would seen tippy to me.

    If you plan to go to 8 or 10 frame setups, I would put the 2 strong hives in the 8 or 10 frame set up, put 2 wood bound excluders on top, then the 2 weak ones in the same size box. The heat will rise and help the small hives keep warm, and the bees as the bottom grows will slowly work up and join the top queen, In time the whole thing will be full of bees. Do place a single sheet of newspaper in between the two hives, below the excluders will allow it to be drug out easier.
    I also advise an upper entrance, the slot in the inner cover will suffice. Else the drones will not have any way out, and will in time plug the excluders.
    IE 2 stacks of 2 boxes each box with 1 queen, all excluded from each other.

    I do this a lot , Hatch a queen in a 2 or 3 frame Setup, place it on top of a strong hive wait for equalization.
    I would not kill the queens.

    In time move one hive to a new location, be sure to add a box at the old location as the foragers will all go back the perceived "home" location.

    GG

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2018
    Location
    Sisters, Oregon
    Posts
    273

    Default Re: Combine hives or make two queen system

    I would strongly suggest checking out Support/Resource hives (Michael Palmer type design- two queen system). Dadant has a great one that's already assembled. Since your weak hives may not have anything to do with having a weak queen it would be great to put them in a setup they can succeed in. I have two of them. Your instincts to put them in something smaller to start are spot on. I would also put them on drawn comb if you have it and feed feed feed. I successfully over wintered a mid August swarm in one half of that bad boy. Highly recommended.
    I'm smart but at the end of the day I'm still the help.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
    Location
    Williamsport, PA
    Posts
    600

    Default

    I am trying out Ian's multiple queen system this year on a limited basis. It is 3 6-frame nucs pushed together under 2 10-frame supers with a queen excluder over the nucs.

    Sounds like a good experiment for your 3 iffy packages.

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Yuba County, California, USA
    Posts
    6,598

    Default Re: Combine hives or make two queen system

    I would combine them all into just 2 hives. That would give each enough strength to actually accomplish something. You could always make up some 4 frame splits in late summer or early fall after you get some honey, if you get any. You could over winter the single fours with mountain camp as backup queens with support staff, as Mike Palmer says. That's just what I would do, there are other options as others have pointed out. Choose your road to travel on.

  8. #7
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Location
    Tuckerton, NJ USA
    Posts
    100

    Default Re: Combine hives or make two queen system

    Quote Originally Posted by crofter View Post
    I would say "Go for it". I would use my Snelgrove boards since I have them but very simple ones can be made up from inner covers and 2 patches of screen. The box of empty comb and excluders works but creates more empty space and heigth.

    If it does not work out you can still combine later. Makes for an interesting adventure. Keep us posted with a blow by blow!
    Iím thinking I will probably give it a shot, Iíll let you know how it goes

  9. #8
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Location
    Tuckerton, NJ USA
    Posts
    100

    Default Re: Combine hives or make two queen system

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve in PA View Post
    I am trying out Ian's multiple queen system this year on a limited basis. It is 3 6-frame nucs pushed together under 2 10-frame supers with a queen excluder over the nucs.

    Sounds like a good experiment for your 3 iffy packages.
    That was essentially my plan with two four frame setups. Still kinda the idea, but maybe less hives

  10. #9
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Location
    Tuckerton, NJ USA
    Posts
    100

    Default Re: Combine hives or make two queen system

    I like that idea, but I’m trying hard not to kill queens. I’m trying to build up my hive numbers

  11. #10
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Location
    Tuckerton, NJ USA
    Posts
    100

    Default Re: Combine hives or make two queen system

    I like that idea, but Iím trying hard not to kill queens. Iím trying to build up my hive numbers

  12. #11
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Algoma District Northern Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    5,611

    Default Re: Combine hives or make two queen system

    If you have the 4 frame nucs they go well on a standard 10 frame bottom with divider.
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    Frank

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